Newbie! 8x10 contact printing.
Never attempted a contact print in my life. DOne lots of BW developing though. What basic gear do I need and are there any good links on the web that give step by step instructions?
The nice thing about contact printing is you can make it as simple and cheap or as involved and expensive as you want it to be.
All you need to get started is a piece of glass the same size or larger than your negative, a negative, a piece of photographic paper and a light source and timer.
Place the paper emulsion side up under the light source, place your neg on the paper emulsion side down, cover it with the glass to keep it flat, and then expose to light. Some people use their enlarger as a light source, but a bare bulb placed a few feet above the paper would work as well. It just has to be something you can control and repeat. Processing is the same as for any enlargement. Beyond that you could also buy a contact printing frame to hold the paper and neg as well - or if your pockets are deep you could get a vacuum uv light source which is much more powerful for alternative process contact prints.
But keep it simple at first - see my second sentence. Contact printing can and should be simple.
Pretty much any introduction to photography book (why must all information come from the Internet?) will show you how to contact print.
I agree with Tim, discover the joy of the simplicity of contact printing. Avail yourself of a dark room, get a lightbulb, three plastic trays, chems, paper, and off you go. Eventually you'll want a light source that you can collimate... and a way to hold everything flat...or maybe you won't! (Does somebody have a photo of Weston's rig?)
For fun I make various cyanotype and Pt/Pd prints just using sunlight. For that I use a board and I pin the neg over the paper. This is fun for the whole family, no darkroom required.
I use my enlarger for a light source. That way I can use VC paper and adjust the contrast, and also use the lens to control the length of the exposure, so I can dodge and burn. (yes, it can be done) No neg in the carrier (of course) and the lens is set out of focus.
The first ones i did with a piece of glass over foam. Later I got a proper contact frame.
Eventually I ran up against Newtons rings (only when using Polywarmtome)
I sand blasted the glass on the negative side, and it solved the problem.
The hardest part is getting used to how simple it is. If you are doing silver, after your technique is down you will tend to compare all other silver prints to contact prints. There is truly nothing else like an 8x10 contact print. One of mine is at a local camera shop that supports LF. Of course they sell digi too (the owners do it so support their habit)
When "normal" people see it they are full of questions, almost always asking what camera and printer, while glancing furtively over at the D-what-evers and ink sprayers. The look on their faces when the shop owner points to the wooden 'Dorf in the corner and tells them it is hand done in a darkroom with a negative and a piece of glass is truly priceless. I could watch it every day.
Last edited by JBrunner; 12-08-2008 at 02:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.
That's just, like, my opinion, man...
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On the web, probably the best place to get started is the articles section of www.michaelandpaula.com, and the pictures aren't bad either. Early next year they'll have the first full run of their new silver-chloride contact paper, for which many people have been waiting since the demise of Kodak's Azo. If I were you, I'd read through Michael's articles on printing, get some good graded paper to start with (Kentmere Bromide, Kentona, and Emaks Graded are all good choices), some amidol, some thick glass, and either a light-bulb or enlarger. When Lodima paper becomes available, get a box or two and you'll get the best possible silver prints.
I can't answer for Emaks or Kentmere Bromide, but you'll need a very low wattage bare bulb for Kentona. Maybe 15 watts maximum if the bulb is 3 feet away from the paper.
Originally Posted by gbenaim
An enlarger is probably best. Kentona is an enlarging speed paper.
One last comment......get two pieces of 1/4 inch thick (6mm) glass from a glass dealer to contact print with. Why two? One is your nice flat base on which you place the paper and negative and the other piece goes on top to complete the sandwich. This avoids the foam layer which is dirty/dusty and won't tame a curled negative. A contact frame works nicely too and are pretty cheap on ebay in smaller sizes.
thanks all. Can some one give me some more exact guidelines if I use a nightlite or a 15w bulb at 3 feet? How long did you people expose for and on what paper? What processing chemicals are best for this.
I hope I did stir up a hornets nest with this request and I see there are a lot of personal faves.
Due to variations of the density of your negative, the brightness of illumination, the distance from the paper, the sensitivity of the paper, type and age of developer, you'll just have to do what everyone else does and try it and see if your exposure is too low or too high. There are many descriptions of making "test strips" on the web. Many minor variations, but read a couple and you'll get the drift.